Bronco Soccer Inks Eight
Feb. 7, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – Head coach Jim Thomas announced the signing of seven incoming freshmen and one transfer for the 2018 season, joining the two early signees: Macie Nelson and Kennedi Paul. The class includes athletes from five different states (Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington), which also contains four local Treasure Valley signees.

Boise State welcomes: McKenzie Cooper (Lake Elsinore, Calif.; Temescal Canyon HS), Piper Flannery (Bend, Ore.; Summit HS), Kendyl Hedberg (Everett, Wash.; Mariner HS), Julia Lewis (Boise, Idaho; Boise HS), Sarah Nehring (Lake Stevens, Wash.; Kamiak HS), Kiara Simpson (Fairbanks, Alaska; West Valley HS), Sydney Smith (Caldwell, Idaho; Caldwell HS) and Raven Sweeney (Corona, Calif.; Washington State).

See below for bios on each signee with quotes from Thomas.

McKenzie Cooper (Canyon Lake, Calif. | Temescal Canyon HS)
Cooper comes to Boise State with having tallied 55 goals and 15 assists through her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons at Temescal Canyon High School. The Titans have won the Sunbelt League in three-straight seasons and Cooper was the leading goal scorer in all three campaigns.

As a freshman, Cooper helped Temescal Canyon to the 2015 CIF Championship. Bronco alum Kayla Tucker (2013-16) also attended Temescal Canyon and was recently a coach on the Temescal Canyon staff. A four-year starter, Cooper is still in the midst of her senior season, as the Titans are currently 10-7-6.

“We have a tremendous athlete in Mckenzie coming in. She’s a person that’s going to give us a different style of forward. She’s out of the Arsenal and Legends programs in Southern California, and as we’ve complimented our current playmakers with more power and pace, we wanted to add more guile up there, as well. Someone who is going to move in between the lines, move like a fox to get to goal and have the wherewithal to finish.”

Cooper played club for Legends FC and Aresenal FC ECNL.

“She is going to work great with the likes of Raimee, Aubree and McKenna, and how they slip people through and get where defenders can’t see you. I think one of the exciting things people are going to see in her early is she plays with about as much bite any player I’ve seen in my past. She essentially plays forward like a defender.”


Piper Flannery (Bend, Ore. | Summit HS)
Flannery joins the Broncos from Bend, Ore., where she helped Summit High School to three Oregon 5A State Championships in her freshman (2014), sophomore (2015) and senior (2017) seasons. Summit tallied a 63-6-4 record over the course of Flannery’s four years with the program.

Flannery is also an accomplished track and field athlete, winning back-to-back Oregon 5A 400m State Titles in 2015 and 2016. Flannery’s speed is best illuminated by her personal records of 56.29 (400m) and 25.00 (200m) on the track.

“Piper Flannery is the most athletic player I have seen in a very, very long time. She has the ability to change the game, and I think that’s what we’re looking for in our forwards as we already have a tremendous goal scorer in Raimee and tremendous creators in the likes of Aubree and McKenna. What we were looking for in this class were players who can complement them, and Piper has the power and pace to compete against the highest level athlete in the country.”

Flannery played her club soccer for the Westside Timbers.

“She’s a wide forward and a player who loves to run at people. She also has the ability to play some defensive positions, but I think we’ll likely use her as a wide forward. I think she is going to terrorize the Mountain West from the right-hand side getting off crosses and getting to goals.”


Kendyl Hedberg (Everett, Wash. | Mariner HS)

Heidberg joins the team after a prep career as a four-year starter at Mariner High School in Everett, Wash. She was a second-team all-conference selection in her freshman (2014), junior (2016) and senior (2017) seasons, while earning honorable mention honors as a sophomore (2015).

Hedberg excelled in the classroom, as well, as she was a member of the National Honor Society all four years and received high academic honors at the end of each year. She was also involved and led multiple clubs: Younglife (club and student) and Sports Medicine.

“Kendyl is a friend of mine from many years ago when I go back to Washington – my former roots – doing camps for many years now and she’s a player who I have seen come up through the ranks and rise into a tremendous star. She’s an attacking central midfielder with the ability to also play as central forward. She’s a very strong, powerful player who can score from range, but I think the real area she is going to continue our growth is in the creation in that 10 spot right underneath the nine where Raimee plays.”

Hedberg played club soccer for the Washington Rush.

“She’s a player that’s going to be able to deputize underneath players like Annie, Aubree and Mckenna, and as her career goes on really establish herself into a key, play-making role for us.”


Julia Lewis (Boise, Idaho | Boise HS)
One of the team’s local Treasure Valley signees, Lewis attended nearby Boise High School. She helped the Braves to a district championship and a third-place finish at the 5A Idaho State Championship as a junior in 2016.

She was a 5A All-Southern Idaho Conference Second-Team honoree her sophomore season and followed it up with a 5A All-SIC Honorable Mention selection the following season in 2016. She missed her senior year due to injury, but was still named team captain.

“Julia is an FC Nova player from the Treasure Valley. She is a player who I had the opportunity to work with as a youth players. I think there are many different kinds of players within our game, and I think you need different kinds of players to put together a team that can be malleable against different opponents. Every team at some point needs a player who can do the things that Julia can do. There isn’t a ball that that kid can’t win. She can run with the fastest, tackle the biggest and out-head the tallest. She is your prototypical holding midfielder who is tremendous in ball-winning situations.

Lewis was excellent in the classroom throughout her time at Boise High School, finishing her four years with a 4.13 GPA. She also was a member of the National Honor Society.

She played club for FC Nova, helping the team to the 2016 Performance Cup Championship. She also was named the 2015 and 2017 ECNL Northwest Program Development Player of the Year.

“She is pragmatic and simple in the way that she passes. The way she is going to compliment Jenn, Michelle and Delaney is going to be exciting to see at the base of the triangle in our 4-3-3.”


Sarah Nehring (Lake Stevens, Wash. | Kamiak HS)
Nehring joins the team from the Pacific Northwest at Kamiak High School where she was an All-Wesco First-Team honoree and an All-Area Defense selection in both 2016 and 2017. A co-captain her senior season, Nehring helped Kamiak to a 12-4-1 record in 2017.

Similar to other players in this class, Nehring has shown her proficiency as an all-around athlete, qualifying to the Washington 4A Track and Field State Championships and competing in the long jump, triple jump and 4x100m relay in 2016 and 2017. The 4x100m team logged a top-10 finish and took ninth in Nehring’s senior season.

“Sarah is athletic, strong on the ball and an excellent center back. We’ve had a history of those guys around here and I think it’s a lynchpin to the way that we play. They’ve got to be ball winners, they’ve got to be athletic to track the likes of the best forwards in the country. I’m excited to bring Sarah into that, as she is going to build a long-term relationship with the likes of Macie. She also is going to be a player who works with an Addy – one of the best center backs we have ever seen here.”

Nehring played for the Washington Rush and served as captain on the team for the past few years.

“We’re excited about the kind of chemistry she is going to bring, as well. She has a wonderful personality and I truly think she fits into the ‘Bronco Way’ that’s been created.”


Macie Nelson (Boise, Idaho | Borah HS)
Already enrolled at Boise State since the start of the spring semester, Nelson was a 2016 All-Idaho Second Team selection while also receiving 5A All-Southern Idaho Conference (SIC) First-Team honors as a junior. The defender helped Borah to an 11-6-2 record in 2016.

She also excelled as a senior, picking up second team all-conference honors and guiding the Lions to the consolation title at the 2017 Idaho 5A Soccer Championships. Nelson led the Borah defense to nine shutouts and allowed just 17 goals on a 2017 season where the team finished 14-4.

“Macie is a tall, rangy center back that is going to build relationships with our current players in the likes of Addy, Allegra and Eva, who all have hunkered down our back line for the last few years. With our incoming players, we feel like there is going to be a great amount of continuity in the back line. She has the ability to win the ball very cleanly and she’s a great distributor of the ball, but for a girl of her height and athleticism, I think her speed is something that is going to catch people’s eyes and give us a bit more freedom to be more attacking with our wide backs.”

Nelson also played club soccer for FC Nova.

“She’s an exciting player as we continue to add diverse skill sets as we build the back line for the future.”


Kennedi Paul (Boise, Idaho | Capital HS)
Similar to Nelson, Paul also enrolled at Boise State early and comes to campus fresh off a 5A Southern Idaho Conference Honorable Mention season where she was the team captain for Capital in 2017. She was named the Eagles’ Most Valuable Player both as a sophomore in 2015 and as a senior this past season.

Paul was a varsity starter her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, and also played softball during her time at Capital.

“Kennedi is an FC Nova player, a Boise native and already a Boise State family member. Her father, Marc Paul, is a very prominent man in the athletic department. We’ve known Kennedi for a really long time and is another player that I have gotten the opportunity to work with at the youth level, and we call her the ‘Lefty’. She’s a crafty player who will play as a left back and probably has the ability to play as a left forward, as well. I think the exciting thing for her is that she is a throwback to the likes of KT Clayton (2011-15). She is a player that will join through the levels and come up to play as the highest attacking player on the left-hand side.”

Paul is one of four signees to play club for FC Nova.

“She whips in balls like you see on TV. She has service from all different ranges and all different contexts that are brilliant for finishers like Raimee, Kristina and McKenna. So I think you are going to see a more widened scoring with the likes of Kennedi in 2018.”


Kiara Simpson (Fairbanks, Alaska | West Valley HS)
Simpson joins the team with an array of prep accolades from her time as a player at West Valley High School in Alaska. She was a three-time all-state selection and was the leading goal scorer in the Mid-Alaska Conference in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

A finalist for Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year honors in 2017, Simpson guided the Wolf Pack to Mid-Alaska Conference Championships in her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. An excellent student who compiled a 4.2 cumulative GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society at West Valley, Simpson will enroll in the Boise State Honors College upon her arrival in the fall.

 “Kiara comes in from the great state of Alaska as we continue to reach out further and further for the best players for Boise State. She comes from a club and an area that we have tapped into before in Tara Fisher who has been a very successful player for us. I think she brings the kind of uniform ability so she can play anywhere. She can be a center back, a holding midfielder, outside back, attacking midfielder, wide forward, and in fact, for her ODP team and club teams, we’ve seen her play all of those positions.”

Simpson played for multiple club teams throughout her time in Alaska: Crossfire Alaska G98, Eclipse Soccer 2000 and Alaska ODP 2000. She also trained and played with Rush Alaska 01 boys team.

“She’s our utilitarian in this group and one that I think is going to get in where she fits in. But rest assured, she will be getting in.”


Sydney Smith (Caldwell, Idaho | Caldwell HS)
Smith played at Caldwell High School and was named a 4A All-Southern Idaho Conference First-Team goalkeeper in 2017. She tallied three shutouts as a senior in helping the Cougars to a 6-8-1 record.

 An extremely versatile player, Smith was actually a 4A All-SIC First-Team midfielder in 2016 as a junior.

“Sydney Smith is one of the local kids we will be adding in the 2018 class. A goalkeeper who is going to continue our movement to athletic players in that position. Players that can really move, cover the goal, come out further and give us more range on crosses and one that has tremendous feet and is going to enable our style of play with playing out the back and playing through pressure systems.”

Like the other four Treasure Valley signees, Smith played club for FC Nova.

“She is also a part of this movement where we’ve really tried to balance Boise being relevant and Boise being reflected in the Boise State soccer roster. So this is a big way for us to keep that movement going. She is an exciting, fun kid who will contest for minutes right away.”


Raven Sweeney (Corona, Calif. | Washington State)
A transfer from Washington State, Sweeney will be immediately eligible to play for the Broncos in the fall as a junior. She attended Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., before playing for the Cougars for two seasons.

Santiago was wildly successful with Sweeney on the team, as they won four-straight Big VIII league titles and won the CIF Southern Section championship in 2014. She was a captain as a senior and was named an All-Big VIII First-Team selection in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She and Santiago never lost a league game in her four years as a prep, finishing with a 33-0-7 record.

“Raven is a tremendous addition for us. I think anytime you can bolster a strong area for yourself and bring in a strong player that has as much experience that this kid has got, you’re improving. And our job every year is to improve. She’s a transfer out of Washington State that we are excited to bring into our central midfield. She’s a Southern California native who is friends with a current player of ours in Mikayla Schachtell. She has the ability to play at the center back position, but I think she is going to give us an aerial presence and a calm on the ball in the central midfield first.”

Was a member of SoCal Blue ECNL and was selected to the 2012, 2013 and 2014 ODP pool.

“Certainly a player with NCAA playoff experience who will look to add to her career here and someone who we can lean on as we move through the 2018 season.”

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